Thirst for Independence: Spain May 'Use Repressive Measures' Against Catalonia

The Catalans are poised and ready to hold a referendum on independence in the face of the Spanish government's opposition. How strongly will Madrid react to the vote and what future in Europe could be waiting for the region if it secedes?

When asked what will happen to Spain's state structure if the referendum on Catalonia's independence takes place on October 1, Spanish political commentator Jose Luis Carretero Miramar cited a wait-and-see approach to the matter.

"First, let's see if the government will give the go-ahead to the referendum or if it will try to prevent the event by using security services or resorting to other methods," Miramar said, not ruling out the possibility of police interference.

According to him, "attempts to organize the referendum will be made in any case."

He predicted that if the referendum occurs, the "Declaration of Catalonia's independence" may be made public already on October 4.

"In this case, we will see; on the one hand, the Spanish government trying to resort to repressive methods and legitimizing them; we will see the government referring to the fact that the referendum law is out of line with the Spanish Constitution and applying to the Constitutional Court," Miramar said.

If voters say "no" to Catalonia's independence, it will put a stop to the struggle for independence that recently started in Catalonia, so this scenario will mean the formation of new self-governing bodies there, according to Miramar.

"I think the main question is to what extent the Spanish government is ready to openly use repressive measures, and to what extent it will increase pressure and 'physically' prohibit the referendum," he said.

Also, many wonder "to what extent the government of Catalonia can count on any support from other countries," Miramar added.

Touching upon a number of problems that independent Catalonia could face, he said that the nascent nation would first have to deal with finding itself outside the EU. 

"This does not mean that there is no possibility of holding further negotiations on Catalonia's re-joining the EU, which could begin even immediately after the recognition of Catalonia's independence at the international level," Miramar said. 

According to him, this could in turn lead to a situation where Spain would block Catalonia's efforts to re-enter the EU.

"I think that the main problem is whether other countries, apart from the Baltic States, will officially recognize Catalonia as a sovereign state, which will in turn prompt a dialogue about Catalonia's re-access to the EU," Miramar concluded.

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